If you run an online business or have a website for your company, you probably have heard about search engine optimization (SEO). As one of the most powerful strategies for getting new visitors to your website, search engine optimization allows you to reach the millions of users who turn to search engines each and every day. However, SEO isn’t easy to master.
Each and every day, millions of new blogs posts, web pages, and pieces of content are uploaded to the web. This means that each day, the amount of content your target audience can engage with is growing even larger. While you may be creating awesome pieces, if they aren’t standing out from the competition, you’re not going to get any new attention to your business.
Optimizing your content is the best way to ensure you’re reaching your target audience and standing out from the mass amounts of information online. However, many individuals struggle to understand exactly how SEO works. Without a great SEO strategy, you’ll have a hard time reaching the top of a search engine results list — and your target audience.
Developing your first SEO strategy doesn’t need to be overwhelming. In fact, with the right tools and steps, you can implement your own SEO strategy that helps your website and content take off. To help you get started, here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to optimize your website and content.
Step 1: Make a List of Potential Keywords
Your keywords will be the foundation of any SEO strategy. Because your keywords are the words or phrases a user will search for when looking for content or information, you want to ensure you’re targeting the right terms within your phrases. If your keywords aren’t strong, the rest of your SEO strategy will fall flat.
To begin developing your list of keywords to target, you want to come up with a few words or phrases that you believe are relevant to your industry, business, or the content you’re going to create. Each piece of content that you develop should target a different set of keywords. However, you should have a master list of words and phrases that you target within your website.
You should start by creating a list of about 10 words or phrases that you believe represent your brand, business, and the products or services that you offer. You can use these 10 terms as a starting point for your keyword research. However, you want to dig a bit deeper into the strength of these phrases before you begin targeting them.
Step 2: Thoroughly Research Your Keywords
The right keywords can be tricky to find. When selecting keywords to target, you want to choose words and phrases that are popular among your target audience but your competitors may not have begun targeting yet. Finding the words or phrases that are still ignored by the other companies in your space can be a real challenge.
Using the list of 10 words or phrases that you selected, you want to dig deeper into their strength and rank. There are a number of tools available online to help you do this, but one of the most popular is the Google Keyword Tool. Using this tool, you’re able to see how often that term is searched, what websites are ranking highly for it, and how difficult it would be for you to target that keyword yourself.
There is a strong chance your original 10 words or phrases will not end up being the keywords you actually target. However, you should keep your list about the same length at all times. Once you’ve found about 10 keywords that you believe will be a good fit for your brand, rank them in order of priority for your business. This will give you a starting point for developing your web pages.
Step 3: Build Pages Specific to Your Keywords
In order to properly target your keywords within your website, you want to have stationary pages that focus on the main keywords you’ve decided to focus on. This means you’ll want to create unique pages that represent the keywords and phrases you’ve selected in Step 2. In most cases, this is easy because the keywords reflect the products or services you’ve decided to target.
When creating keyword-specific web pages, you want to bunch each keyword category into one page. Your web pages should represent each different group of keywords you have. For example, if you’re choosing to target the keywords “women’s shoes” and “women’s high heels,” these keywords can go on the same page. However, “women’s shoes” and “men’s shoes” should have their own keyword-specific pages.
You always want to keep your end user in mind when creating these pages. If developing a new page doesn’t improve your user’s experience, it probably isn’t necessary. Because search engine crawlers are always looking to promote websites that users are spending a lot of time on, your visitor’s experience should be your main priority when creating your website.
Step 4: Develop Your Blog
Your blog will become a key part of your SEO strategy. As an easy way to upload new content to your website, your blog gives you an opportunity to keep your website active and use the keywords you’ve decided to target. Your blog also provides you with an opportunity to connect with your target audience, share information, and build a stronger connection with potential customers and clients.
Each new blog post that you upload gives you a new opportunity to get recognized by search engine crawlers. Additionally, your blog will allow you to create content that can target new keywords and appear in new searches. This improves your chances of reaching new audience members and can help you attract new leads.
However, when you begin writing your blogs, you need to remember that your reader is the priority. Search engine crawlers are going to look for a strong user experience. If you’re not providing value to your reader, they’ll quickly leave your page in exchange for a competitor’s site. If search engine crawlers recognize that this happens repeatedly, you could find your listing further and further down the list of results.
Step 5: Create a Content Plan
Content and SEO go hand-in-hand. It will be impossible for you to improve your SEO ranking if you’re not thinking seriously about the content you’re creating. Developing a clear content plan allows you to take control of the pieces you’re developing and connect with your target audience in new ways.
Your content plan should consider the various needs of your target audience. When you take the time to understand their needs, fears, and the problems they’re looking to have solved, you can create the content they’re looking for to help them make more informed decisions. With the right content plan, you can increase your awareness, improve your reach, and find your pieces at the top of relevant searches.
The content you create should go beyond just blog posts and articles. While we commonly think about blogs when talking about SEO, videos and images such as infographics can also greatly improve your search engine ranking. When you include different forms of content in your strategy, you’re able to reach individuals who search the web in different ways.
Step 6: Focus on Link-Building
Many companies focus entirely on their own website when looking to improve their search engine ranking. While your keyword placement and content are important factors for where your listings will fall on a results list, they aren’t the only factors. There are some off-page factors, such as link-building, that you will also want to consider.
Links-building is a practice that allows you to create a web of links back to your website. However, link-building is often difficult because the placement of those links is usually out of your control. In order to develop a strong web of links to your website, you want authoritative websites to push back to your page. Not only does this improve the number of individuals coming to your website, but it also shows search engines you have information worth sharing.
You can build links in a number of ways. First, you can post guest posts on other websites. This usually gives you an opportunity to include a bio or links within your content back to your site. You can also build new links by reaching out to websites and asking them to include a link to your page. However, the easiest way to build a strong web of links is to create high-quality content worth linking to. This will help those links come naturally.
Step 7: Track, Measure, and Make Changes
Optimizing your content for search engines isn’t something you can do once and leave alone. If you want to stay at the top of a search engine results list, you need to constantly evaluate how your SEO strategy is holding up. If you’re not making necessary changes to your content, you may find that your strategy is outdated and not bringing you any benefit.
You can track your SEO efforts through measuring how many visitors are coming to your website through search engines. Using Google Analytics, you can see how many new individuals are finding your pages from searches online. You can also track which keywords are the strongest at bringing in new users.
Every few months, you will want to go back and see how your keywords are looking compared to your competition and other keywords out there. Because keywords can become more and more diluted as more companies start targeting them, you want to ensure you’re switching out over-saturated keywords with something new. Additionally, if a term stops being popular, you want to stop targeting that word or phrase.
Search engine optimization can take some time to master. However, if you want any chance of being successful online, you need to be sure you’re properly optimizing your content to appear in a search engine results list.
If you’ve never developed an SEO strategy before, don’t believe it isn’t something you can tackle. With these seven steps, you can be on your way to creating an awesome SEO strategy — and be reaching the top of a search engine results list.